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Green Thumb Tips

Echter’s Plant Doctors are available during store hours seven days a week to answer
your gardening questions. For accurate diagnosis, it helps to bring in a sample.
 

Flower Gardens
Watering plants that have been recently planted outdoors is tricky. The rule is to water them in thoroughly after they are planted. Then watch the area next to the edge of the original soil ball to see if it is getting dry. You want to encourage the roots to move out into the surrounding soil to get water without letting the original soil ball get too dry. Reduce the watering frequency with time, but water thoroughly each time you water. Don't just wet the surface of the soil.
 
An easy way to harden plants that are going outdoors is to cover them with Plant & Seed Guard for a few days after you plant them. You can use wire supports if necessary to hold the fabric away from the plants. Attach it to the ground with wire staples. It’s re-usable.
 
Pot begonias and dahlias now and keep them indoors until later in May. This will give them a good head start and they will bloom earlier after putting them outside.
 
Before transplanting, be sure that your plants are not dry.
 
Flowering annual starts which can be planted out in early April after “hardening them off” are alyssum,
dusty miller, sweet peas, anchusa, larkspur, centaurea, pansies, dracaena, and snapdragons.
 
 
 Perennials & Roses & Vines
Group flowers and vegetables with the same water needs together to take
advantage of their lower water requirements.
 
Plant wildflower seeds in April. Improve your soil before planting by raking in either peat moss or compost
or a combination of the two.
 
 
Trees & Shrubs
April is the best time to plant new trees and shrubs. Improve the soil first with compost and/or peat moss. Then apply MYKE Tree & Shrub Transplanter and water in with Root Stimulator, both of which reduce transplant shock and stimulate root growth.
 
When planting large trees, stake them for the first year. Use 2” wide staking straps around the tree. Do
not use wire, twine or rope on the tree itself. Place the stakes 2-3 feet away from the tree, tie the strap
to the stake and leave a little slack. Let the tree sway slightly to develop roots and caliper.
 
Cut back butterfly bushes, blue mist spireas, Russian sage and other late summer-blooming shrubs at this time.
 
If you didn’t get around to pruning your shrubs and trees in March, you can still do some pruning now, the earlier the better.
 
Remove protective tree wrap from young trees around April 1. Check the trunk for any problems.
 
Before transplanting, always make sure trees and shrubs are not dry to help avoid transplant stress.
 

Vegetable Gardens
It's time to plant garlic cloves, seed potatoes, dormant strawberry plants and onion sets.
 
Keep an N-sulate cover handy for unexpected frosts after your garden is planted. It will keep the frost off new seedlings as they emerge from the soil.
 
Remember to rotate your vegetable crop plantings each year. Plant each variety of vegetable in a different part of your garden than you did last year. This will minimize repeated problems with disease and insects.
 
Plant your fast growing crops in two-week intervals to prolong the availability of lettuce, spinach, peas, and radishes. When the weather gets too hot for these vegetables, plant some in the shade of taller plants, like pole beans and corn. This system is also good for gardeners with limited space.
 
By placing a floating row cover over your carrot, lettuce, and spinach seed, your seeds will germinate quicker, and the birds won’t make a meal of them. Floating row covers also eliminate cabbage loopers on cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts.  Keep your cover handy in case there is a cold snap
for any newly planted vegetables and flowers.
 

Lawns
Early April is the best time to start fertilizing your lawn. By using a fertilizer with pre-emergent (weed and grass preventer), you will be able to eliminate a lot of annual grass and weed seeds by keeping them from germinating.
 
April is a good time to seed or overseed lawns. Use a good grass seed and apply New Lawn Starter fertilizer after the seed is sown. Keep the area moist even after germination. Do not apply a pre-emergent crabgrass control before or after seeding, as this will prevent grass seed germination.

Core aerate your lawn before fertilizing this month. Not only does this help the lawn’s vigor and health, it also reduces maintenance and water usage. Be sure your lawn is well watered a day or two before aeration.
 
Keep your mower blade sharp. Dull blades can invite lawn diseases to enter grass blades. Bring your rotary mower blades into Echter’s for sharpening. You can bring them in on or off the mower.
 

Houseplants
On a nice warm day, take your houseplants outside and give them a shower, or use your bathroom shower. The plants will appreciate a good cleaning after being inside all winter.
 
Birds
It's spring cleaning season even for birds. If you haven't cleaned your bird houses this year, clean them
out and then spray them with a bird feeder cleaner before the new birds arrive.
 
Continue feeding the birds at your feeders. Seed-producing plants are just beginning to grow and there
are now more birds competing for the depleted wild seed supply. Give them a supply of water also
.
 

 

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